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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet

Last Edit: 10/01/17

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a science fiction comedy series, originally broadcast on radio, and that was later adapted into a series of novels. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was created by Douglas Adams, and proved extremely popular; eventually culminating into a Hollywood movie. In 1984, the National Science Foundation - a U.S. government agency - planned the creation of a computer network. Designed in 1985, and launched in 1986, NSFNET would become one of the most important computer networks ever created. NSFNET used the TCP/IP protocol system - that was developed by DARPA - and became the primarily 'backbone' network of the Internet in the 1980's.

In 1985, Ed Krol was one of the network engineers who helped build NSFNET. It became apparent to Ed Krol that no one had published a guide to the Internet, and that information was 'thin on the ground' for a history of how the Internet was created and what comprised the Internet. Therefore, in 1987, with funding from the National Science Foundation, Ed Krol published the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet'. The 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet' can be downloaded and read at the following locations (as of 2014):

  1. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/39
  2. http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1118

The main subjects covered in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet" are listed below. It should be noted that the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet" only provides a guide to the Internet from 1966-1989: it covers the creation of ARPANET; how TCP/IP was designed; the creation of NSFNET; and the interconnection of IP networks to form the modern Internet. The purpose of the document is outlined in RFC 1118: "This document assumes that one is familiar with the workings of a non-connected simple IP network. Its purpose is to get that person, familiar with a simple net, versed in the "oral tradition" of the Internet to the point that that net can be connected to the Internet with little danger to either. It is not a tutorial, it consists of pointers to other places, literature, and hints which are not normally documented." The sections of the document are as follows: